Daniel Martell is the new chief of Palm Beach County’s Economic Council.
Martell follows Mike Jones, who retired last year after a decade with the organization. Also last year, the council unveiled a “Six Pillars” plan to improve Palm Beach County’s schools and regulatory climate.
Martell, who took the helm in November, said the primary goal for this year is to strenthen communication between its membership and every level of government in the county.
“It is important for the elected officials to know that business wants to work with them,” Martell said last week. “Business and government should be able to perceive each other as partners and not hindrances to progress. The council will continue to use the Six Pillars initiative to make this goal a reality.”
Name: Daniel F. Martell
Title: President and CEO of the Economic Council of Palm Beach County
Hometown: Jacksonville. Jupiter is now home.
Education: Bachelor of arts degree in political science from the University of Florida, juris doctor from Nova Southeastern University.
Family: Married to Cheryl Martell, a second-grade teacher in the School District of Palm Beach County. We have three children, ages 10, 8 and 5.
About your organization: The Economic Council is a privately funded not-for-profit membership based organization with a mission to create an environment for business to prosper.
First paying job and what you learned from it: My first job was at age 15, cleaning a 22-clay-court tennis center starting at 5:30 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays at a country club in Jacksonville. While maintaining the courts was a tedious job, it taught me to work hard no matter the task. Whether it’s cleaning tennis courts or running a top-notch organization you have to provide the best service all the time.
First break in business: My first job out of law school was with the Home Builders Association as director of government and political affairs in Palm Beach and Broward counties. I did not know a soul in the business community, but the builders took a chance on me and let me perform. I am forever grateful to the industry and the folks who build our communities.
Best business book:Good to Great by James Collins. The best lesson from this book is to never become complacent. Once you believe your business is good, then you have to figure out a way to make it great.
Best piece of business advice: My father likes to tell my brother and me that so long as you are doing what you love, you will have fun doing it, and later success will follow. He immigrated to this country from Cuba with nothing more than the shirt on his back and his love for cars. He started his career as a porter cleaning cars and retired owning General Motors and Lincoln dealer franchises. He attributes much of his success to his passion for the automotive industry. It’s the same level of passion I have for Palm Beach County business.
What advice do you give to young people about business? Listen and try to meet as many people as possible along the way. You can learn more from observing and listening to those more seasoned in your business, rather than thinking you can conquer the world on your own. I am still young, so I am still listening.
Other than your current position, what is the most rewarding job you ever held? Vice president of real estate at Florida Crystals Corporation was a very rewarding position. Florida Crystals is an integrated global agricultural company with more than 2,000 employees in Palm Beach County. As VP of real estate I was given the opportunity to learn about the breadth and importance of agriculture in our economy. The industry employees not just farmers, but accountants, engineers, welders, mechanics, and scientists. To be part of an industry that affects people in so many ways is very rewarding.
What do you see ahead for Palm Beach County? The enormity of our county and our amazing diversity of culture and economy kept our county from unraveling during the downturn. Now that we are entering into a recovery we can play off of our strengths and become a state leader in how to formulate an amazing recovery, and it is already happening.
Companies are beginning to hire again: Comcast in West Palm Beach, for example. The Business Development Board is attracting hedge funds and investment banks from Massachusetts and New York. We have an incredible base of companies located in Palm Beach County with amazing resources, such as a global leader in cell tower development, SBA Communications in Boca Raton, and renewable energy leader, Nextera Energy in Juno Beach.
With this foundation and level of attraction, Palm Beach County will become the model for the state. There is no reason why we should not beat such other Florida counties as Orange, Hillsborough, Duval, and Osceola in attracting business. We will win if we continue to support and nurture our base, create alliances between industry clusters, and build stronger lines of communication between business and government.
Power lunch spot: Pistache. Its downtown location and great service attracts the “who’s who” on a daily basis.
Passion cause outside of work: Beyond work, my family is my passion. Raising three children is incredible and a lot of fun.
Where we’d find you when you’re not at the office: You would find me in Jupiter on the ball fields, volleyball courts, or dance studio with my children.
Favorite smartphone app: Politico. It’s a great source of national political news for political junkies like me.
What is the most important trait you look for when hiring? You are only as good as the people you surround yourself with, so I want people who will compliment my weaknesses and come to work everyday with a high level of energy.
I also want to hire people that I know will one day leave my team for a bigger and better role, either within my organization or outside.